Lava, Delicatessen in Neukölln

LavaThe storefront that precedes Lavanderia Vecchia is now home to Lava. A deli with mossy green walls and checkered tiles on the floor. A lone ham and 4 long salamis greet me when I come in. Doilies are pinned to the furniture at random intervals while barren wrought iron candle holders decorate the wall.

The space is large; I count 4 rooms one of which is also the kitchen. On Saturday afternoon, there are two tables besides our own but not at the same time. The customers speak English and I wonder if they have made the trip especially since outside, it’s mostly Turkish men reclining on fold out chairs and smoking effusively.Lava

The menu is small and scatty or one could also call it eclectic to put a more positive spin on it. There is a cold cucumber yogurt soup (€4.90). Spaghetti with vegetable Bolognese (€6.50) that is like a miniature ratatouille, one that uncharacteristically (and unfortunately), includes carrots. The vegetables are cut into brunoise, which shows me there is pride and care in the kitchen. The pasta has passed al dente and entered stodge town, which alongside the carrots, lets the dish down.

Then there is the glass noodle salad (€4.90). I order it because I’m intrigued, it doesn’t seem like a thing I should be able to order when 4 salamis and a ham have greeted me. It’s spicy but not nearly as limey as I would like nor are there any herbs, rendering it one dimensional.Vegetable bolognaisePerhaps because the menu changes daily one visit isn’t nearly enough to judge Lava.  Had I gone on the 19th of June, I might have found the veal meatballs with potato cucumber salad (€7.50) exceptional but I happened to be there on 15th of June instead and found it pleasant enough.  Although, I appreciated the effort more than the result.

Despite my reservations, if Lava were closer to me, I would be a patron. The staff is lovely and an open kitchen always reassures me. I feel that there is enthusiasm in the kitchen, even if on my visit, they didn’t quite make it happen for me.

Flughafenstr. 46
Daily 12 – 23


  1. says

    I went for dinner and really enjoyed my pulpo. It is pricey for the hood, but I dot the same “we are trying very hard” vibe. Wines were reasonable and the decor in the back was unique. I def will go back.
    Lunch is always tough in Berlin, as places try to outdo each other on price…quality is rare.
    joe @kochtailberlin

    • says

      Love octopus. Love it. And yes, totally get the lunch argument although that shouldn’t get in the way of cooking the pasta al dente…

  2. Jess says

    I live nearby and had one of the best dinners in a long time at Lava. I know some people who have been for lunch a number of times and are always happy. That being said, I know I’ve passed up some lunches based on the menu.

    • says

      Hi Jess – Yes, that was my feeling exactly and what I tried to convey in the post. That because the menu changes so frequently, experiences can be different. But as I said, I think the care taken, the lovely staff etc is more than sufficient reason to go back. Also I want to have the pulpo that my friend Jo wrote about in the first comment.

  3. Lesley says

    Wandered in for a casual lunch today and was impressed with an ample and lovely meat and cheese plate in addition to the vichyssoise (the first I have ever liked, actually). The selection of prosciutto and salami definitely stood out to me as far more sophisticated than many I’ve had in Berlin even though I wasn’t expecting it based on the sort of cheesy pop songs playing around us, and crackle-finish wall decor. The service was appropriate and sweet, and the vintage silver and china place settings were welcoming. I’m looking forward to a second visit.
    I also wanted to add that in Roman cuisine, Bolognese sauce typically includes a soffrito of carrots, onions and celery. An Italian friend who lives in a village outside Rome gave me a recipe that is almost half soffrito, half beef-and-tomato sauce. Sad to hear that their version wasn’t very tasty though.

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